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Albany wants to take over an Orleans County nursing home, claiming owner fraud, bad care

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WBFO News
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Mike Desmond
AG Letitia James flanked by family members of those claiming often lethal care in nursing home

Albany is rushing to seize control of The Villages nursing home in Orleans County, saying patients died in large numbers because of understaffed and inadequate care and hidden owners fraudulently taking millions of dollars. State Attorney General Letitia James says an immediate takeover is essential.

During a news conference yesterday in Buffalo, James was flanked by relatives of patients in The Villages who are also suing the facility over bad care and deaths. The AG’s office says there have been 55 deaths since private ownership took over what was the county nursing home. Margarette Volmar says her husband was in the nursing home and she found out what care he was getting when a staffer carried a camera into his room.

“My husband was laying on a bed with no sheets, no blankets, no clothing . He had on a diaper and that’s how he lay, in 14-degree weather. And,this is one of the reasons I’m trying to help and do anything I can do to stop this.”

State Health Department records on the facility are not clear, with James saying at least one patient death was never reported.

During the Pandemic, 23 patients died of COVID. The attorney general says in her lawsuit staffers didn’t have enough Personal Protective Equipment and workers infected with the virus were forced to take care of patients. The nursing home had no comment.

Darlene Stevens says her husband was mistreated in the facility.

“He entered the facility, let me backtrack a little bit, at 165-169 pounds. He was walking six miles a day. When he left that facility to go to RGH, he weighed about 125 pounds. He could no longer speak. When he went in, he could speak sentences. He was very articulate. He understood a command, he said himself. But, he was left to starve to death.”

James says some of the unlisted owners are facing criminal investigations in other nursing homes they own or operate. She wouldn’t comment on whether there is a probe of The Villages. From 2015 to 2021, The Villages received more than $86 million for patient care, much of it from Washington

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.